All right, folks, we got through the funeral. Let’s see if there’s any way to go on in a Rayna-less Nashville.
Down at Highway 65, no one wants to talk about work, but they really have to talk about work. Bucky’s got a big tour lined up for The Exes, but Scarlett is hesitant about leaving the girls so soon. The ever-tactful Zach brings up releasing Rayna’s last album to the public, but Deacon isn’t on board and says it’s not finished anyway. An even less tactful and now impatient Zach wants to know when it’ll be ready; the company really needs some money coming in right now considering the recent purchase of Wheeling Dealing Records, and the album of a recently deceased star would sell like hot country biscuits. Still, an understandably grumpy Deacon is reluctant and doesn’t believe that he owes anything to the fans — only Rayna.
Back at the house, Juliette stops by with some groceries for the girls and Deacon. Maddie’s phone has been ringing nonstop since her performance at the CMT Awards, and this time when it buzzes it’s “one of the Jimmys.” Scarlett yells at whichever one of the Jimmys it is and tells him to leave the bereaved teen alone. Juliette, however, is astounded that they would turn down offers to appear on national television. (That girl’s priorities are seriously skewed.) She’s all, “The girl’s having a moment, whether it’s good timing or bad” and thinks this will give Maddie the opportunity to play her music on a bigger stage, which is what she’s always wanted. Scarlett thinks there’ll be a better time — obviously she’s right since there literally couldn’t be a worse time. Call me cynical, but it seems like riding the wave of your mother’s death to success is kinda tacky, to say the least. But Juliette is on a roll and offers to take Maddie to New York herself. Deacon (who apparently had been in this scene all along) steps in and asks Maddie what she wants. She thinks the only reason people want to talk to her is because she cried on television in front of the whole world, but her dad tells her it’s because she got up on a big stage in the hardest situation imaginable and was magical and beautiful and the world saw that. And so Maddie and Juliette head off with Deacon’s blessing — even though he looks completely miserable as they drive away.
After a dinner date with Zach in which the billionaire implores him to try and reason with Deacon, Will goes to see the widower to try and bring him around to the idea of releasing Ray’s music sooner rather than later. Will and Deacon probably have the least onscreen time out of everyone on this show, so it’s not entirely surprising when Will makes little headway. Bucky’s worried that Zach will pull his money out of the company, so Deacon relents and says that he will think about it.
Meanwhile, in the Big Apple, Maddie is appearing on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. I feel like a morning show might’ve been a better fit, but hey, I’m no publicist. Noah’s a sweetheart (hey, cameo!) and makes Maddie feel comfortable, not pressing her to talk about her mom when she tears up. Later, backstage, he has her perform Ray’s song again for the group, and the reality of the situation seems to come flooding back to Maddie.
Back home, Daphne and Scarlett are watching on the couch. Daphne confesses that she feels sick whenever she thinks of her mom so has been trying not to, but Scar advises reflecting on all the good times and not forcing her mind to block all those thoughts out.
Meanwhile, upstairs, after unsuccessfully attempting to listen to the album he and Rayna were working on, Deacon goes to her closet and takes out an old suitcase full of relics, notebooks and old CDs from over the years.
The poor guy is completely overcome with grief. He starts watching old footage of the two of them recording together and flipping through her lyric books. She’s filled pages with her thoughts about Deacon and their hurricane-like love.
The next day, Maddie is on Harry Connick Jr.’s talk show, and she’s giggling. Of course he asks her how she’s coping with her mother’s death, and she responds that she’s trying to be open to the idea that the world can work in mysterious ways: Bad things can come from good intentions, and good things can come from tragedy. Then she adds, “Obviously, I’m not like, ‘Thanks, Mom, for all the attention I’m getting.’” Crickets. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to be on television but also precisely the reason they are. Later, when she sees a headline quoting her as thanking her mom from all the good that’s come from her death, she breaks down and refuses to do her next appearance. When she gets back to Nashville, Daphne is relieved she’s back. Maddie thinks she’s a horrible person because she forgot for a moment how sad she was, but Deacon assures her her mom would’ve been proud.
Time for another unsuccessful HW65 meeting! Zach is still trying to make it clear to Deacon that the album is an asset, and it’s all the only one they have at this point, but D sticks to his guns. He explains that Ray’s part is just a scratch track and he hasn’t even recorded his part yet and then asks if Zach is threatening to pull his investment in the company if he doesn’t record soon. Zach responds that he’s not the threat — the world is, and so are all the outstanding debt and tax payments that are part of it. Deacon’s had enough of them all trying to profit off his wife’s death and walks out.
Later, Deacon is busy reading Ray’s diary (his new favorite pastime) when Avery interrupts to offer to grab some lunch and ask if he needs anything. Deacon says his main concern right now it that everyone’s bugging him to do the album, and he’s being stubborn — and that probably means he’s letting the girls and HW65 down, but he can’t even listen to it right now, let alone record.
Juliette comes by to say she’s disappointed with Maddie’s lack of professionalism in NYC, but with that being said, she’s patched things up with the TODAY show and Maddie has another opportunity next week. Scarlett is not about it at all, and the two country crooners get into it, with Juliette calling Scar out for being afraid of fame and not taking her opportunity when she had it. Maddie storms out.
Upstairs, Deacon is watching video footage of his and Rayna’s wedding and reading some more of her dairy when he comes to the last page she wrote. He flips frantically through the rest of the pages before accepting there’s no more words from his wife and moves on to the watching the footage Zach’s videographer put together. This is when he fully breaks down. He crawls into the corner of the room and lets the sobbing take over. (Seriously, give Charles Esten all the awards.) But then he hears Rayna talking on the video, describing how he always comes up stronger than he was before, no matter what he has to face, and how he never gives up. She knows he’s the best father her girls could ever ask for and that’ll he’ll never give up on them. Those words are enough to galvanize him into action, and he rushes downstairs to embrace his daughters and make sure they know how much he loves them. But when he runs into them in the hallway, they’ve got something of their own to share with him.
Everyone has shown up with their instruments to help finish the album. Rather than just have it be a duet between Deacon and Rayna, the whole cast is going to collaborate. So, while Rayna sings from a video monitor, everyone takes a turn in the booth recording one of the songs with her.
Finally, it’s Deacon’s turn, and after a deep breath and a glance to the heavens, he starts singing with his dead wife. I think it’s a beautiful moment, but I can’t really see through my blurry-from-tears eyes.
The whole group presents the completed record to Zach the next day with a lot of hugs and understanding nods, and Deacon heads home with his arms around his two girls.
That just leaves Scarlett and Gunnar alone in the street together. Scar tells her ex that she’ll do the tour with him and also, by the way, she’s pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is. And we won’t either, for a while, because that was the midseason finale. They did this story line before on Nashville with Juliette, and it turned out we all got the baby daddy we were rooting for (Avery, not the dreaded Jeff Fordham), so this time around I’m hedging my bets that the father turns out to be the English director boy. Time will tell.
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